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Going to the Dentist in the Time of Corona

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I need to take my dd to the dentist this afternoon.

When I spoke to them they said we needed to wear a mask and she could have 1 adult companion with her. They also said they are keeping the office cooler than usual so bring a sweater.

 I’m not sure what the temperature thing is about. I wondered if it was just to make it more comfortable for their staff while they are wearing PPE. I’m assuming they will be wearing N95 masks. I’ve been concerned about the safety of the staff but now that I’m thinking about it I’ve started to wonder about the safety of the patients.

This virus prefers cold to heat I think, and I’m pretty sure I’ve read that respiratory droplets stay airborne longer in cool dry conditions than they do in warmer more humid ones. I have been wondering if a positive patient is treated in the room before you, wouldn’t any aerosolized particles hang around in the room for a while?

Does anybody have insight or information on this? Any recent experience with the precautions at the dentist?

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My mom had a toothache and had to go to the dentist last week - ours are only open for emergency appts right now. My friend is a hygienist in a nearby town. The protocols at both places are similar. Prior to the appt, they asked if she's been sick recently or been around anyone that has been sick recently.  At the door, they took my mom's temperature w/ a touchless thermometer. There was no one else in the waiting room. The dentist was wearing a mask and a face shield, gown and head covering and gloves. The receptionist was behind plexiglass. My mom said she felt very safe and that the dentist seemed well protected as well. 

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Our orthodontist is open and ds was there yesterday. I called from the car to check in when we arrived. They called back when they were ready for him. He dropped off two CV related waivers we had to sign. I waited in the car. Next appt made digitally. Regular surgical masks or plastic face shields on hygienists and docs, as was true before CV, except they wore them the whole time and bot just when working on ds' braces.

  

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26 minutes ago, AmandaVT said:

My mom had a toothache and had to go to the dentist last week - ours are only open for emergency appts right now. My friend is a hygienist in a nearby town. The protocols at both places are similar. Prior to the appt, they asked if she's been sick recently or been around anyone that has been sick recently.  At the door, they took my mom's temperature w/ a touchless thermometer. There was no one else in the waiting room. The dentist was wearing a mask and a face shield, gown and head covering and gloves. The receptionist was behind plexiglass. My mom said she felt very safe and that the dentist seemed well protected as well. 

Thanks!

Any thoughts on aerosolized particles left in the room from previous patients? The patient being examined won’t have a mask on so it seems like they could potentially be at risk unless there is sufficient time for those to settle.

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I think I may have the answer. I just called the dentist and they said they leave the rooms for at least an hour between patients so that sounds good.

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my kids had cleanings last week.  I was hesitant but they had already been postponed 2 month and one of my kids had a a visible cavity and I needed to have the dentist take a look.  Their protocol was this.  Text when you arrive, they will will tell you when to come in.  Door propped open so no one had to touch.  fever check upon entering, everyone uses hand sanitizer.  Masks required.  Waiting are chairs marked with flip over sign, green means it clean red means it's waiting to be santized.  empty chairs in between aren't to be used.  Only sit in green spots and flip card over when you leave.  Cleaning area has multiple chairs in an open room (which is great because all my kids can get their teeth cleaned at once.  Now they are are only using half the chairs, plexiglass barriers between stations.  Hygenists have 2 masks and a a face shield.  Cleaning is done with manual toothbrush rather then the electric one to reduce spray.  They run a fogger periodically during the day to clean the air but not sure how often that is done just that they said it would be running shortly after we left.  While not having teeth actively worked on, everyone wears masks (so on and off several times during the appointment).  I think they took every reasonable precaution.  

I know the droplets hanging in their air is cause for concern but I think there is only so much that can be done about that.  It's still better than a grocery store where hundreds more people are going during the day.  So if you need to see the dentist, I would just go and do the best you can.

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I had to go last week.   I broke the back corner, down to my gum, of my molar off.  6 weeks ago and this was the earliest I could get in.   My state has had a rough time defining when dentists could be open for anything.

Wait in the car, mask, temp, etc.  They were a little disorganized and I was given a lot of conflicting information.  It was frustrating.  They did an xray, told me I am going to probably need a crown, and because I am not currently in pain am not "enough" of an emergency.   I couldn't get over that phrase, "enough of an emergency".   I have to go back in 6 weeks when they have their new filtration system fully up and running.   

I know people have bigger problems than this, but I have huge dental anxiety to begin with, so worrying for 12 weeks over the whole situation is exhausting.   I never would have believed 6 months ago that beyond my inability to afford it, or my huge anxiety, I simply wouldn't be able to get essential dental care done.   It's mind blowing for sure.

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Thanks for the replies!

I think our dentist is being careful. I’m glad she is going in now rather than in a few weeks time, as previously planned, in case the numbers go up.

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My mom was the first appt of the day. I think they're spreading out patients as much as they can and only taking emergency appts right now. That's a great question though - my son has braces and I'm a bit nervous for when those appts start back up again.

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5 minutes ago, AmandaVT said:

My mom was the first appt of the day. I think they're spreading out patients as much as they can and only taking emergency appts right now. That's a great question though - my son has braces and I'm a bit nervous for when those appts start back up again.

I called the dentist to ask. They said they leave the rooms empty for an hour between which is pretty good I think. The cooler conditions may make the particles hang out longer in the air though, so not sure what the longest they would be there for is. I don't know how you can keep it safe for the patient if you have multiple people being seen in the same room. The real concern with dentistry is, I think, aerosolization because of the things they do with peoples mouths, so I would imagine there would be particles circulating throughout the room. I had thought of it before in terms of the risk to the dental staff, but I hadn't given much thought to the risk to the patient.

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I wouldn't be comfortable with surgical face masks, even if they had a face shield. The shield is to protect them from droplets, not sure how it protects patients from their exhalations... My last appointment, a few weeks before the pandemic hit the US, my hygienist was wearing a surgical mask and shield. I thought it was strange when everyone kept popping in to ask if she was ok. Two days later I started with the worst sore throat of my life which lasted about a week, and I had only been to the dentist. That led to a mild MS relapse which took about a month to resolve. I hadn't been anywhere for about two weeks before that appointment and nobody in my family was sick, so I can only think I caught something from her.

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2 hours ago, Zebra said:

I had to go last week.   I broke the back corner, down to my gum, of my molar off.  6 weeks ago and this was the earliest I could get in.   My state has had a rough time defining when dentists could be open for anything.

Wait in the car, mask, temp, etc.  They were a little disorganized and I was given a lot of conflicting information.  It was frustrating.  They did an xray, told me I am going to probably need a crown, and because I am not currently in pain am not "enough" of an emergency.   I couldn't get over that phrase, "enough of an emergency".   I have to go back in 6 weeks when they have their new filtration system fully up and running.   

I know people have bigger problems than this, but I have huge dental anxiety to begin with, so worrying for 12 weeks over the whole situation is exhausting.   I never would have believed 6 months ago that beyond my inability to afford it, or my huge anxiety, I simply wouldn't be able to get essential dental care done.   It's mind blowing for sure.

This was my husband’s situation exactly except it was more like 8 weeks that he had to wait because breaking off a quarter of your back molar wasn’t an “emergency”.  He finally got in yesterday because dentists in Michigan weren’t allowed to do non-emergency work until Friday of last week.

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Our 6 month teeth cleaning and check up was last week. Our dentist has a very small office. We were instructed to call when we arrived and to bring our masks. After arriving, they checked our temps. They waved us in when they were ready. Our appointments were spaced out, so dd and went in first and later on, dh and the boys. When we went in, we used hand sanitizer and then had our oxygen levels checked. After that, we were escorted to the exam chairs and handled clear eye wear. We had to rinse with a peroxide solution before any cleaning happened. There were multiple air purifiers set up through out the office. Some procedure were slightly different- no open mouth rinsing with the water jet, etc. It was very much a come in, get it done, and go kind of appointment.

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I went for a cleaning a few weeks ago and was surprised at the lack of precautions taken at our office.  My temp was taken upon arrival and I was asked if I had been traveling or exposed to anyone who had symptoms, but that was it.  

 

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1 hour ago, Kassia said:

I went for a cleaning a few weeks ago and was surprised at the lack of precautions taken at our office.  My temp was taken upon arrival and I was asked if I had been traveling or exposed to anyone who had symptoms, but that was it.  

 

Wow! We are here now and they are checking everything carefully, social distancing etc. I think they might be better having people wait outside rather than spread out in the waiting room. 

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I've been to the dentist for myself and for my kid recently.  They are doing a lot of things, not just a face mask but several layers of protection.  The dentist mentioned it was really hot wearing all that.  So I assume that is why they are keeping the place cooler.

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I would be concerned about the temperature thing, too. That’s one reason meat processing plants had outbreaks. 

I’m on the fence about this; I was due for a cleaning in February, but I did not manage to get an appointment before I left on my trip. When I came back, it wasn’t possible before the shutdown. I have a self-insurance type contract at that office and my cleaning is supposed to be free, but it expires in July. I don’t know whether to try to get in before the expiration or just forget about since I don’t evidently have a problem. 

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My son missed an orthodontist appointment during April.  When they reopened in the middle of May, I called to get him scheduled.  Earliest they could get him in is June 22.

She explained precautions:. Wait in car, only patient comes in, temperature taken, etc.  Then she asks me if he has a temperature, and whether anyone in our house had been sick, any traveling,etc.  I'm still trying to figure out why all those questions were relevant when his appointment was a full five weeks away from that phone call. 

I really hope they call back the day before his appointment and re-screen.  

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I am terrible at typing on my phone
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2 hours ago, Quill said:

I would be concerned about the temperature thing, too. That’s one reason meat processing plants had outbreaks. 

I’m on the fence about this; I was due for a cleaning in February, but I did not manage to get an appointment before I left on my trip. When I came back, it wasn’t possible before the shutdown. I have a self-insurance type contract at that office and my cleaning is supposed to be free, but it expires in July. I don’t know whether to try to get in before the expiration or just forget about since I don’t evidently have a problem. 

It actually wasn’t all that cold, maybe a little cooler than usual, but not much. I didn’t end up asking about the rationale with the coldness. I also highly doubt that they were leaving rooms empty for an hour between patients but maybe. They were using electric toothbrushes instead of the high speed descaler thing they usually use and they had dd rinse for 60 seconds with a peroxide rinse before they started to reduce bacteria, ? Virus in her mouth.

I felt like they were trying pretty hard. Our area is still pretty low numbers so I felt fairly ok but I would not have felt very comfortable if numbers were high here. I’m glad we were able to do it now rather than in a couple of weeks when things may be worse.

Unfortunately they said she probably needs to have her wisdom teethed removed so not sure about navigating all that right now.

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20 minutes ago, Meriwether said:

That sounds similar to our dentist's precautions, but Dd5 had to go in by herself.

Wow! At 5! They were letting anyone under 18 have 1 adult with them. Probably more risky having all those extra people in there. Everyone had to wear a mask at least.

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2 hours ago, TCB said:

Wow! At 5! They were letting anyone under 18 have 1 adult with them. Probably more risky having all those extra people in there. Everyone had to wear a mask at least.

She looked pretty little going in. She always goes back alone, so I guess the the only main difference was walking in the door and waiting for someone to claim her. And the mask, which made her seem smaller. 

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14 minutes ago, Meriwether said:

She looked pretty little going in. She always goes back alone, so I guess the the only main difference was walking in the door and waiting for someone to claim her. And the mask, which made her seem smaller. 

She must be a very brave girl! Good for her!

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Surprised they made a 5yo go back alone.  They let me sit in with my 13yo (I did have a mask on).

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On 6/3/2020 at 9:56 AM, TCB said:

I think I may have the answer. I just called the dentist and they said they leave the rooms for at least an hour between patients so that sounds good.

My dentist has one of those open plan offices with just floating walls between patients. There's no way for them to leave a room empty. I think I'll put off dentist appointments for awhile.

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